I read an interesting article recently about how people choose a dog that reflects their status in life or their heritage. Dogs such as Afghan hounds and Welsh corgis are selected by people who see themselves as upper class. Labradors, golden retrievers, and German shepherds are chosen by those who see themselves in a lower social class. Part of the reason is simply the cost of the dog – dogs that cost thousands of dollars obviously aren’t within reach of someone who’s not wealthy. Note that the study asked people about their social standing, not their income, so it reflects their self perceptions of where they stand in the world, not necessarily the reality!
The study also noted that your choice of dog shows how you view the world – if you have a Rottweiler, you see the world as a dangerous place, whereas a beagle might indicate you feel safe in your world. You want to be seen as tough – you get a tough dog.
Many people also choose dogs that haven been in their families for generations. Scottish families get Scotch terriers. And then there’s the old truism about how pets physically resemble their owners.
So what does my dog say about me? She’s a poodle. You might say that’s a “high class” dog – poodles have that snotty, prissy reputation. However, my poodle doesn’t look like a traditional poodle with the goofy cut, pointy nose, pompoms on the legs and bobbed tail. We leave her shaggy and fluffy and her tail is long. She actually looks more like a Bichon Frise, which, okay probably sounds just as snobby. Yes, I grew up with a poodle in our family – Buffy the Walking Footstool (she was a tad overweight). But the biggest reason we have a poodle: my husband is allergic to dogs. Poodles don’t shed, therefore don’t bother him. Actually, it’s probably a combination of all of those things! I guess I feel safe in the world because she’s sure not a tough, scary dog.
It was fascinating to me as a writer and I’ll be thinking about what kind of dog my characters will choose and what that says about them…